Society for Alternative Media and Research

Media

Society for Alternative Media and Research (SAMAR) is a non-governmental organization based in Pakistan’s federal capital, Islamabad. It was established in 2005. SAMAR works as a watchdog on media by monitoring and analyzing the contents of news and views in the mainstream and regional print and electronic media with citizens’ perspective for democratic participation.

Media Monitoring and Analysis

SAMAR monitored eight news channels and six newspapers for the past three years (2016-2018). SAMAR also monitored and analyzed Balochistan's local government election coverage by English and Urdu newspapers and national and regional TV channels in Sindhi, Saraiki, Punjabi and Pashto languages. An analytical report was published. Monitored and analyzed coverage of “General Elections 2013” by six news channels (English and Urdu) keeping in view the Election Commission of Pakistan’s code of ethics for news media. Analytical reports were published. (2013)

University Curriculum

Disaster Reporting in Mass Communications Syllabus at University Level Media Initiative for Disaster Reduction in Pakistan: Introducing disaster reporting in mass communication syllabus at university level. The purpose was to Inform, improve and deepen the understanding and analysis of media with special reference to disaster and multi-hazard risk reporting in Pakistan. Deans and chairpersons of mass communication departments of 15 public universities in a meeting held at Islamabad approved the syllabus. (2013)

Video documentaries

  • A documentary on "Journalism for Democracy in Pakistan through Decades" (2017)
  • A documentary on “News for Whom? (2009)
  • A documentary on fisher folk’s struggle for their rights (2009)

Tobacco Control

SAMAR has been working on policy development for Tobacco Control in Pakistan for the past twelve years with the collaboration of Bloomberg Initiative for Global Reduction of Tobacco Use. SAMAR is also working as secretariat for Coalition for Tobacco Control-Pakistan, a coalition of 250 member organizations from all over the country, working in the area of health and tobacco control.

Policy interventions

1. Tobacco Control Laws and its implementation.
2. Policy developments with respect to pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs.
3. Policy discussions on significant tax raise on tobacco products.

Policy Advocacy

1. Secretariat of the largest coalition of (more than 260) civil society organisations in Pakistan working on tobacco control issues.
2. Annual commemoration of World No Tobacco Day activities reaching out to more than 77 cities nationwide with the support of its coalition partners covering all four provinces of Pakistan. The major activities include banner displays, press conferences, schools competitions, roadside streamers, letters to authorities and joint demonstrations with civil society.

Litigation

1. 100% successful litigation for enforcement of Tobacco Control Laws (TCLs): Eight cases filed which were decided in favor of enforcement of TCLs on smoking at public places.

International Activities

1. Pakistani Lawyers Training on Tobacco Control, Kathmandu, Nepal. (2012)
2. Pakistan Tobacco Control Strategy Planning Meeting, Dubai, UAE. (2015)

SAMAR is members of the international Framework Convention Alliance, Regional EMRO Coalition of Civil Society Organizations and Global NCD Alliance.

Mazhar Arif, Executive Director, SAMAR

Mazhar Arif is a veteran journalist, media critic, researcher, writer, and people's rights activist. He has more than four decades of journalistic and development sector experience, as he brings with himself a strong understanding of Pakistan's governance structures.

He works and supports the idea of an inclusive society. He also promotes cultural and social diversity as a sign of unity, with respect and pride in folk wisdom. His more than two decades of journalistic experience includes work with Herald, Dawn, Express Tribune, Daily Times, Pakistan Times, The Frontier Post, and Urdu daily Imroze.

A strong advocate of freedom of expression, for the last two decades his focus has been on promoting democratic, plural and ethical journalism. For three years (1994-1997), he has served as the Media Director to the President of Pakistan.

Currently heading Society for Alternative Media and Research, his research has focused on media, land rights, agriculture, education etc.